In the final stretch of the California gubernatorial race, Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman have unleashed millions to label their opponent as a puppet to various special interests. Whitman, who weathered "nannygate" and hit back hard after being called a "whore" by opposing staffers, has come out with an ad depicting Jerry Brown as a marionette--all strings attached--puppeteered by the labor unions. Brown, who's having trouble keeping up with Whitman's record campaign spending, countered with a 60-second spot called "Echo" where he catches Whitman uttering the same platitudes that Gov. Schwarzenegger ineffectively argued for years. As Ken McLaughlin of Mercury News points out, by showing Whitman "parroting lines handed to her by high-paid consultants," Brown is effectively throwing the insult back her way, portraying her as a "puppet manipulated by her handlers."

The latest Fox News poll shows a narrow five point lead for the Democratic ex-governor.